Formative Evaluation of the Gippsland Wilderness Program
Berry Street’s Gippsland Wilderness Program (GWP) is an outdoor bush adventure intervention for young people experiencing adversity. The GWP has been running for over twenty years, and was originally established for young people disengaging from school; for the last twelve years it has supported young people involved in Berry Street services. GWP participants are aged 13-16 years, and are generally in out of home care as a result of abuse and/or neglect, or at risk of entering care. Typically, the young people are also at risk of disengaging from school, are already engaged in an alternative education or training program, or have no involvement in education at all.
The GWP takes groups of up to eight young males or females into remote natural environments on an expedition-style Journey of around 8 days duration, using mediums of bushwalking or rafting. The Journey is usually followed by a 3-day Reward camp and a 1-day Reconnect day, along with individual follow-up and occasional wider reunions through the delivery of recreational activities as Taster days.
In early 2016 Berry Street commissioned Adventure Works Ltd to undertake an evaluation of Berry Street’s Gippsland Wildernenss program (GWP) incorporating four components:
- Clarificatory evaluation
- Process evaluation
- Emergent participant impact evaluation
- A literature review
A key purpose of the evaluation is to inform the strengthening of the GWP program design and practices, and thereby build program readiness for subsequent outcome evaluation. This report provides findings and recommendations arising from the overall evaluation.